news digest | Jan 18, 2022 |
Salone del Mobile is postponed, Interior Define nets $30 million and more

This week in design, a cozy-looking home library has captured hearts on Twitter for its overflowing array of books—The New York Times, meanwhile, has tracked down its true origins. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading, and more.

Business News

Salone del Mobile has been postponed from April 5 to 10 to June 7 to 12 due to safety concerns surrounding the current wave of COVID-19. The president of the Milanese furniture fair, Maria Porro, issued a statement explaining that the event’s organizers hope that postponement will improve attendance from international exhibitors and participants for Salone del Mobile’s 60th anniversary edition, which will focus on the theme of sustainability. The decision comes after last year’s postponement, which moved the fair from its traditional date in April to a slot in September, and follows the recent cancellation of Germany’s IMM Cologne, the postponement of France’s Maison&Objet and Sweden’s Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair—and, most recently, the postponement of the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, Netherlands. Originally slated to take place in March, the Dutch fair has also been rescheduled, and will be held June 25 to 30 for its 35th anniversary edition.

Private equity firm 3G Capital has agreed to buy a majority stake in Dutch blinds and window shutters company Hunter Douglas at an enterprise value of about $7.1 billion, or 175 euros a share, Reuters reports. 3G is best known for investing in the food and drinks sector through companies like Kraft Heinz and Burger King, and will operate a 75 percent stake in Hunter Douglas. The Sonnenberg family, which founded the window treatments maker in 1919, will retain a 25 percent stake. David Sonnenberg will take on the role of executive chairman when the deal concludes, replacing his 87-year-old father Ralph Sonnenberg. Meanwhile, João Castro Neves, a senior partner at 3G Capital, will serve as chief executive.

It’s been two years since Apple, Google and Meta committed to spending a total of $4.5 billion to create more than 40,000 new houses in their home state of California, The Real Deal reports. So far, however, the tech giants have only funded the completion of 1,500 homes. The move came in response to the increasingly difficult housing market in the Bay Area—rents jumped by about 70 percent in San Francisco and San Jose from 2010 to 2019 as each tech company experienced further expansion and moved in top-earning employees. While part of the problem can be attributed to ongoing supply chain issues in the home building sector and restrictive zoning laws, some land-use consultants have speculated about the motivations behind the initiative. They’ve speculated that each pledge may have been well-timed to cast a positive light on each company to distract from their roles in the overall housing crisis—Google’s pledge, for example, came after it battled unhappy residents and community groups alike to get a new campus project approved in San Jose.

Vanguard Furniture has acquired a former Drexel Furniture manufacturing plant in Morganton, North Carolina, Furniture Today reports. The company plans to restore, refurbish and install new equipment in the 163,000-square-foot factory in time for operations to begin in April—a debut it says will create up to 150 new manufacturing jobs. According to a statement from Vanguard, the purchase was made in response to record demand the company experienced in the fourth quarter of 2021, combined with ongoing supply chain issues that have made domestic manufacturing more desirable in recent months. “Despite the problems it has created, one good thing arising from supply chain issues is the reemergence of U.S. manufacturing,” Vanguard president Andy Bray told FT. “We want to fully control the materials and the quality. And manufacturing closer to our customers reduces transportation costs and delivery time.”

Online rugs retailer Rugs Direct has acquired Lightopia, an omnichannel lighting retailer for residential and trade customers, at an undisclosed price, Home Accents Today reports. Following the purchase, Rugs Direct CEO Myles Felsing will take over as CEO of the combined company, while Lightopia principal Ken Vick will serve as executive vice president of sales. According to a statement from Felsing, category expansion—including a more recent pivot into the area of soft decor—is key to Rugs Direct’s long-term strategy.

Big-box retailers are putting their money on home organization solutions to drive sales in the home goods sector, Modern Retail reports, after the category grew at three times the rate of the overall home category year over year from December 2020 to November 2021. Recent examples include Walmart, which announced that it would be collaborating with The Home Edit on a collection of home organizing “starter packs;” Amazon, which debuted a new section on its site dedicated to organization solutions; and Target’s new home organization brand, Brightroom.

Horizon Technology Finance Corporation, a company that provides secured loans to venture capital-backed companies in tech, life science, health care and sustainability, has closed a $30 million venture loan facility to customizable director-to-consumer furniture brand Interior Define, Inc. With the group’s investment, Interior Define will set its sights on expanding its product portfolio in the years to come, along with executing plans to open 30 stores in 2022 alone.

Launches and Collaborations

Corey Damen Jenkins has signed a licensing partnership with Hancock & Moore and Maitland-Smith, both part of the Rock House Farm family of brands. The designer’s first collection as part of the collaboration will debut in October 2022 at High Point Market, and will feature 20 to 25 styles ranging from sofas, chairs, bar stools, tables, desks, dining chairs and a bar cabinet.

French fragrance brand Diptyque has launched its first-ever wallpaper collection. The company was established in 1963 by friends Desmond Knox-Leet, Christiane Gautrot and Yves Coueslant as a showroom space to present the group’s upholstery and fabric designs, before transitioning to candle-making. The new line draws upon the brand’s beginnings and archival upholstery designs with a variety of styles, including the nature-based trio Landscape, Les Lilas and Jardins; the pointillism-inspired Mosaic; and a cloud-like pattern called Odalisque.

Ten percent of the 750 million gallons of paint purchased each year goes to waste, and the newly launched startup Up Paint aims to provide a solution: The company recycles used paint from drop-off locations across the country, processing and purifying the leftovers before adding new pigments to create one of 18 colors in the brand’s line. The business has partnered with nonprofit Paint Care and recycling company GreenSheen to create the collection, available both online and at retail chain Tractor Supply.

Recommended Reading

Buying a matching furniture set may be the easy, one-and-done route to home decorating, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only option. For House Beautiful, Hadley Keller makes the case against room-in-a-box sets, outlining alternative routes to easily and cost effectively filling a space for an outcome that still feels personal to its inhabitants. “If there’s one thing I’d hope two years pent up in our houses would have taught us, it’s to have a little fun with decorating,” writes Keller. “Don’t color within the lines—or shop in the box(ed set).”

As homeowners combed through old clutter and sought out interior design services in recent years, professionals have found themselves faced with a new challenge—integrating well-loved collections of all kinds into their design schemes. From automobiles to vintage magazines, the Wall Street Journal has rounded up some of the best examples of the phenomenon.

In Memoriam

Last week, 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer died after an attack inside the Croft House furniture store in Los Angeles, where she had served as an employee for a little over a year. According to the Los Angeles Times, Kupfer was a native of the Pacific Palisades area, and had been studying exterior design at the University of California, Los Angeles Extension while working at the store. Kupfer was “smart, confident, calm and beloved by her co-workers at the store,” Croft House co-owner Riley Rea told the paper. “I’m absolutely devastated for her and her family. It just seems so disgusting and unexpected. Really there are no words to say how shocked we are to lose such a wonderful person.”

Homepage image: French fragrance brand Diptyque has launched its first-ever wallpaper collection. | Courtesy of Diptyque

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